Having grown up on Livernois and Tireman at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, Dr. Robert Simmons survived his father’s physical incarceration while enduring his own mental incarceration as a result of his father’s situation. A 1992 graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Robert is currently serving as the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). He is responsible for the national implementation and development of CBMA’s place based efforts. As a nationally recognized scholar and expert on issues of racial equity, Black men and boys and urban education, Robert has shared his expertise throughout the United States and Europe, as well as on numerous media outlets including CNN and local media outlets in Washington DC and Detroit. Prior to joining CBMA, Robert served as the first Chief of Innovation & Research in the District of Columbia Public Schools. While managing numerous initiatives in the district, Robert was the chief architect of the nationally recognized Empowering Males of Color initiative. As a result of this work, Washington DC was recognized, along with Detroit and Oakland, as one of leading cities working to improve the lives of males of color according to the Promise of Place Report. Prior to joining the DC Public Schools, Dr. Simmons was the founding director of the Center for Innovation in Urban Education at Loyola University Maryland. As a tenured professor of urban education and African/African American studies, Robert also had an appointment as a research associate at the Baltimore Education Research Consortium at Johns Hopkins University.
A former middle school science and math teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, his career has included being nominated twice as the Walt Disney National Teacher of the Year and once for the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation Outstanding Educator Award. Robert has been a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation where he conducted environmental research in the rain forest of Costa Rica, and participated in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. The author of over 40 publications, including the book, Talking About Race: Alleviating the Fear (2013), his research has focused on the experiences of African American males in schools and the role of race in understanding the social context of schooling. Robert's next book, Responding to the Call for Educational Justice is due for release in late 2017. Robert is also finishing, Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline: African American Males as Critical Scholars and Intellectuals, which is part autobiographical reflecting on his fathers' incarceration while offering insights into the educational experiences of African American males. The author and evaluator of over $4 million in grants, including serving as one of the leading researchers on an NIH funded project designed to support the development of virtual science labs for K 12 students and teachers, Robert currently lives in Washington DC with his wife and two sons—John and Malcolm.
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